Walker drops out of race
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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dropped out of the GOP presidential race Monday evening, urging other candidates to do the same so voters will coalesce around a candidate who can topple front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE.

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"The Bible is full of stories of people who were called to be leaders in unusual ways," Walker said in prepared remarks at a press conference in Madison, Wis., recalling when he sat in church the previous day.

"Today, I believe that I am being called to lead helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field," Walker said.

"I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner," he continued.

"We need to get back to the basics of our party," the Wisconsin governor added.

Walker is the second major Republican presidential candidate to end his campaign, following former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who suspended his White House bid on Sept. 11.

There are 15 candidates still in competition for the Republican presidential nomination.

"This is a difficult decision, as so many wonderful people stepped up to support our campaign," Walker said, thanking his volunteers, staffers and family.

"Most of all I want to thank God. I want to thank God for his abundant grace. Win or lose, it has always been more than enough," Walker said.

Walker said the Republican Party needs to focus on private sector job creation, cutting regulations and emphasizing a strong military.

Even before he took to the lectern at The Edgewater hotel for his statement, which lasted just shy of four minutes, rival campaigns had started touting on social media that they had poached some of his aides for their own campaigns.

Still, several Republican opponents offered kind words for Walker on his way out, including Trump, who tweeted before Walker's announcement that "he's a very nice person and has a great future."

"He remains one of the best governors in the country and I have no doubt that he'll continue the fight for conservative principles," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement.

"Republicans are lucky to have Scott on our team," Rubio added.

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) similarly wished Walker well, tweeting that he believed Walker would "remain a vital voice in the Republican Party." Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Walker has "a proven record of fighting for conservative reforms. I know he'll continue to do that as Governor."

Walker's poll numbers have plummeted over the past couple of months and recent reports have suggested that his campaign was in financial trouble. His team has been scrambling to reassure nervous donors that he could win in Iowa over the likes of Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. 

Walker had fallen out of the top five in Iowa, an early-voting state where his campaign had focused on gathering support, and his poll numbers dove brutally after the first GOP presidential debate in early August. 

His prospects further soured on Sunday, when a CNN/ORC International Poll found him receiving the support of less than 0.5 percent of Republicans nationally after the second debate last week, where he spoke the least of the 11 candidates on the prime-time stage. Trump, meanwhile, spoke more than twice as much as Walker did.

Walker, who was reelected to a second term as governor last year after fending off a recall attempt in 2012, had relied heavily on his executive experience in Wisconsin and his battles against public unions there.

The governor attracted the attention of President Obama and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, who both traveled to Wisconsin in recent months to criticize the GOP candidate. 

A few GOP contenders have surged in polls in recent weeks, such as former business exec Carly Fiorina, and Rubio. But Walker was only losing support, and he voiced frustration Monday with Trump, whose rise coincided with Walker's fall.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee said in a statement on Walker withdrawing from the race that "Donald Trump just handed a victory to unions and working people, and a defeat to one of the worst governors and corporate sell outs in the nation." 

Another liberal group, Americans United for Change, echoed that sentiment while bashing Walker as "one-trick labor bashing pony and the novelty seems to have worn off even among Republican primary voters."

"Let Walker’s early collapse be a lesson to the other Republicans," the group's president, Brad Woodhouse, said in a statement. "Assaulting the labor movement isn’t just a loser economically, it’s a loser politically."

Walker said in his brief prepared remarks that he hoped the remaining GOP candidates would find a leader "to refocus the debate" on issues that he pushed for, including a greater focus on private workers.